Saturday, September 21, 2013

Compassion for Immigrants

Compassion for Immigrants
Robert A. Hall

This past Sunday, our pastor preached a homily on immigration, the thesis of which was that providing citizenship to illegal immigrants was not some kooky, left-wing idea, but compassion rooted in the teachings of Christ not to turn anyone away from the table. He is a great friend, a man of sparkling humor, broad intellect and knowledge, deep compassion, always good intentions…and Progressive Principles. And I hate to be at odds with him, but in the real world, the road to vicious cruelty is paved with good intentions.

If you believe that it is unjust that people can’t fly like birds, and in pursuit of fairness and justice you march 100 people off a cliff with only instructions to flap their arms, the fact that your intensions were good, or that you considered the law of gravity unjust does not absolve you of their deaths on the rocks below.

Compassion that is disconnected from the laws of economics and human nature leads inevitably to suffering and cruelty. It’s not that Progressives mean to be cruel, but rather that they are so wrapped up in their good intentions that the evil results do not signify. Rather like they banned DDT to save the birds, and were so busy congratulating themselves over that victory that the deaths of millions of black, brown and yellow children in the third world when Malaria spiked due to the ban signified not at all. (Now, ironically, they are sacrificing those same birds to eagle-chopper wind farms because they are wrapped up in their good intentions to save the environment.) As T. S. Eliot said, “Half the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important. They don't mean to do harm—but the harm does not interest them. Or they do not see it, or they justify it because they are absorbed in the endless struggle to think well of themselves.”

A simple example will suffice. Suppose you have in your home enough food to provide ten good meals to hungry people. You can feed ten, or decide to feed 20 half rations, or perhaps feed 30 a third of a meal, so, though still hungry, they get at least a little nourishment. But if you, out of deep compassion and good intentions, decided that you should turn no one from the table, and invite 1,000 or 5,000 hungry people to eat, every one of them will leave as hungry as when they arrived. (Assuming you do not create a violent riot with the strongest beating the weak and grabbing the food.) Your good intentions do not absolve you of the result that no one was fed more than a crumb. Meanwhile, the “compassionate conservative” (if you will), who is rooted in reality and the iron laws of economics, will have fed 10, 20 or even given a little food to 30, while all went hungry from your table. It is not given to mortals, regardless of good intentions, to replicate the miracle of the loves and the fishes.

How does this relate to immigration? If we allow the 10 to 12 million illegals already here to become citizens, we will next have to extend citizenship to the 20 million who will follow them, then the 100 million who will follow them. (That won’t fully happen, though, because before the 100 million can all come, America will cease to be a place worth coming to.) Already, parts of our cities, especially in California and the Southwest, are become as crime-ridden, corrupt and desperately poor as the barrios the immigrants left to come here. If we turn America into a third world country by destroying our culture, values and economy through unlimited immigration, the people who will suffer most will be both the poor American and the poor immigrants already here. It will also produce a nativist reaction against all immigrants by the middle class who see themselves being forced into poverty by these policies, and by America’s poor, including immigrants already here, who are already being squeezed by the economy, who will have to fight for the crumbs at the table. In the last four years, black unemployment has soared under Progressive Policies. (If you take into account those who gave up and left the work force, or those getting by on part time work, real unemployment is probably over 14%.) What happens if black unemployment doubles under the flood of immigrants? These policies will inevitably lead to inter-minority group violence.

If you think we need open borders, with no enforcement of “racist” immigration restrictions at all, you should be required to open your home to as many “undocumented workers” as wish to live there. No restrictions on numbers may be placed and the undocumented immigrants must be allowed to invite as many family members and friends to join them as wish to come. And those to invite others.

The new residents in your home will, of course, be expected to find jobs if they can, and to pay for as much of their own expenses as possible. But for those who cannot or will not find employment, or for those who can find only low-paid employment (those famous “jobs Americans won’t do”), you as the compassionate home owner and host will have to pay the difference so they and their children have adequate food, clothing, utilities, health care, education, transportation and other necessities of life to keep them from abject poverty.

This will be expensive, as the definitions of “necessity” and “poverty” have changed. In 2003, “91 percent of those in the lowest 10 percent of households — all officially poor — own color TVs, 74 percent own microwave ovens, 55 percent own VCRs, 47 percent own clothes dryers, 42 percent own stereos, 23 percent own dishwashers, 21 percent own computers and 19 percent own garbage disposals. When I grew up in the 1950s, only the wealthy owned color TVs, clothes dryers, stereos, dishwashers and disposals.” (Bartlett, Bruce, “Poverty Yardstick Notes,” The Washington Times, October 5, 2003.) Don’t expect to skimp on your undocumented guests, even as news of your generosity spreads and ever more folks join them in your home.

And if at any point you say, “No, enough!” you will be immediately labeled a racist and barred from polite society as surely as an Arizona politician.

This is ridiculous, you say? Your family’s culture, lifestyle, standard of living and finances would all rapidly collapse, even as family members who were able to would flee the bedlam your liberal principles have created, in order to seek other domiciles. Exactly.

For that is exactly what unrestricted immigration and open borders will do to the nation’s culture, lifestyle, standard of living and finances. Of course, it will take longer, because the country is immensely larger than your household.

Immensely larger, but not infinitely larger. At some point, the place to which the immigrants are coming will no longer be culturally, politically or financially the America to which they now want to immigrate. Neither they, nor the inhabitants here to greet them will be especially happy with the changes.

Could America absorb as citizens the estimated 12 million “unauthorized migrants” living in the United States? Yes, though not painlessly. But suppose we fulfilled the dreams of these 11 million souls, plus the dreams of Democratic Party strategists who would count on getting a large proportion of their votes as entitlement-dependent voters, and made them all citizens in a blanket amnesty, as some suggest? Tomorrow, the first of the next 20 million “unauthorized migrants” would arrive. About 9% of the current undocumented migrants arrived from 2008 to 2010. That flood would increase as word of the amnesty spread—why should they not expect the same largess in five or ten years?

Already our current policies toward Hispanics are deeply racist. If you treat one group of people better and another group of people worse purely because of their race or ethnic background, isn’t that racism? If so, then having Spanish as an option on everything from corporation voice-mail hells to government programs is clearly racist. After all, there are a lot of citizens, permanent residents and, yes, illegal immigrants whose native language is something other than English or Spanish. That immigrants from Mexico and other Hispanic countries, legal or illegal, get to have everything presented in their native language while immigrants from Poland or Vietnam or Latvia or China or Nigeria do not, clearly discriminates in a racist way against those immigrants who come from a non-Hispanic culture.

Is it because there are more Hispanic immigrants than those from other language groups? So you can discriminate if a group is a minority, and it’s okay? But English-speaking whites currently outnumber Hispanics, thus by this “Press two for Spanish” logic, it’s okay to discriminate against them as “Press Two for Spanish” does to other ethnicities. Given our litigation-happy culture, it won’t be long before a smarmy lawyer figures that out and decides to cast aside political correctness in favor of a payoff. Then we will see the courts tied in knots trying to promote “fairness”—that liberal chimera—for everyone.

The worst part is that the practice discriminates against Hispanics as well. Hispanics who speak only Spanish earn significantly lower incomes than those who speak English, though because of the bilingual demand, those who speak both do best of all. But by making it easier for Hispanic immigrants to get by without learning English, we condemn them to poverty and welfare dependence. That, of course may be the point for political groups that depend on the government-dependent for their power base.

And by promoting a bilingual society, you promote conflict within that society. Yes, there are peaceful societies, like Switzerland, where there are more than one dominant language. But there are many examples, like Quebec and Belgium, where it leads to political rancor, and sometimes violence, perhaps even disunion. A common language is a unifying force, while bilingualism is a Balkanizing force. In the face of the challenges before us, we need all the unifying we can get.

Given that’s American’s birth rate has followed Europe’s into the population death spiral, below the replacement rate of 2.1 live births per woman, we need more immigrants, including more Hispanic immigrants.

Let me say that again. We need more Hispanic immigrants, just as a practical matter. But by immigrants, I mean people who want to join our culture, adopt our values, learn our language, and participate in the social, economic and political life of the nation.

We do not need illegal colonizers, who want to establish the separate, failed, cultures they fled, whether the poverty and corruption of Mexico and other third world countries, or the oppression of the misogynist, intolerant, Islamic supreamacism of Sharia’a law,

By 2050, it is projected that there will be 132 million Hispanics in the United States. (“Hispanic Americans by the Numbers,” U.S. Census Bureau.) If we have 132 million Americans of Hispanic ancestry, it will be wonderful. If we have 132 millions Mexicans and others who are culturally and emotionally embedded in the country they left behind, it will be a disaster. It is unlikely, of course, to be 100% either way—but will the proportion be high enough for America to remain America? Or will the dream of a reconquista of California and the Southwest—attributed to and denied by La Raza and other Hispanic groups—become a reality?

We need the right kind of immigrants. And, no, I’m not talking about their racial, ethnic or religious heritage, though I fully expect this statement to be taken out of context to prove my venality—that is what the Left does. But we do need immigrants, regardless of race or ethnicity, who want to become Americans, not those who want to re-establish here the failed cultures and corrupt political systems they left. Nor do we need to allow in criminal elements from the drug cartels that see us as prey. We are quite capable of growing our own gangs, thank you.

Americans have an affluent lifestyle, based on political freedom, limited government, property rights, the rule of law, and a tolerant culture. Most of the poor in America are the envy of much of the third world. Immigrants who have the desire and ability to join that culture will enrich us all. Those who want to bring the corruption, poverty, oppression and intolerance of the third world here, or who want to feed on our affluence without becoming part of our culture, will, if allowed, destroy everything good that we have and that most immigrants seek. We aid them to our peril. We have enough challenges with the alternative government-and-crime-dependent culture that has grown up in our cities, which threatens us from within, without importing additional seeds of our destruction. If you don’t believe me, look at Mexico, a country rich in natural resources and agricultural potential. Which way do the immigrants flow? Why have they not built a society close to ours? Hint: it’s not about race.

If you read the excellent book, Mexico at Midnight, by Alfredo Corchado, a Mexican-born American reporter who loves Mexico, you will quickly learn that there is hardly an official or policeman in the country who is not actively seeking bribes. He despairs. Of course, we do not want criminals, murderers and drug dealers to come here. But the majority of Mexican immigrants are honest, hard-working, decent people who want a better life. Given that, should we not encourage them to stay in Mexico and help build a prosperous society under the rule of law to help the vast majority of Mexican who will not come? Or don’t we care about the majority of Mexicans left behind? That, of course, is why Mexico wants these folks to leave, as it is a safety valve that rids them of people who might force change. It also, of course, brings millions of dollars into their economy as immigrants send money to their families. Thus you have the ridiculous irony of Mexico declaring US voter ID laws like theirs or immigration laws less stringent then theirs “racist.”

As argued in The Revenge of Geography bRobert D. Kaplan (which I recommend), Mexico, with a long border, is far more important to the future of the USA than the Middle East. We need to work with them to build a decent, modern society, and that will cost money, lots of money. And it can’t be the usual foreign aid, which is a wealth transfer from poor and middleclass Americans to rich and oppressive third world oligarchs. But creating a modern, prosperous Mexico under the rule of law will be far less costly than either throwing open the border or the military and dollar costs of trying to tightly close it against a failed narco-state. Unfortunately, neither Democrats nor Republicans seem interested in taking this risk.

None of this is to suggest that immigration is our worst problem. It is possible—I’d say probable—that the debt being run up to fund Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Obamacare, Food Stamps, Disability, and government union pensions will force a fiscal collapse leading to social and political collapse, chaos and violence long before the immigration bomb explodes. If you don’t think that’s possible, I recommend “The West and the Tyranny of Public Debt” from Newsweek.

But Progressive immigration policies by themselves, far from being compassionate, will turn America into armed camps, make much of the middle class poor, and the poor—immigrants and native born alike—destitute. And the Progressives will not own the cruelty and suffering created by their policies, because their intentions were good, and intentions, not results, are all that matter in their world. All will be invited to the table they are setting, but the table will be bare for far more folks than today, and approaching it will put many in a violent and dangerous world. This is not my definition of compassion.


Permission to forward or re-post, with credit to the author, is granted. Robert A. Hall is a Marine Vietnam Veteran who served five terms in the Massachusetts Senate, Portions of this article have been adopted from his book, The Coming Collapse of the American Republic. Books by Robert A. Hall:

1 comment:

  1. Thank you Bob, for great economic post.
    Ed K